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Start Imagining a Post-Carbon China, and Africa

Solar panels and wind turbines work in an integrated power station in Yancheng city, in China's Jiangsu province. Hector RETAMAL / AFP

Chinese total carbon emissions could peak by 2028, with emissions coming from the electricity sector topping out as early as 2025. This is according to Liu Zhenya, who runs the Global Energy Interconnection Development and Cooperation Organization, a Beijing-based think tank. Liu’s previous job is maybe more notable: he used to head State Grid Corporation of China – the largest utility in the world, which runs 88% of China’s electricity supply.
Peaking in 2028 would put it two years ahead of President Xi Jinping’s own stated goal. The think tank also projected in a recent report that China could reach full carbon neutrality by 2055 – five years ahead of targets announced by Xi last year.
This sounds very promising, but it raises a lot of questions, not least about a $10 billion new coal-to-chemicals plant planned for Inner Mongolia, also announced this week. The plant is projected to be a large emitter – just one of the many contradictions in China’s push towards clean energy, which includes being both the largest builder of new clean and coal-powered projects in the world.

Without a vision of a post-carbon Africa, China’s climate ambitions will leave Africa in the dust.

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